The Arizona Cardinals haven’t been known as a running team of late.
The last time they had a 1,000-yard runner was in 2007 with Edgerrin James. That season, the Cardinals were a mediocre 8-8 team.
Last season, they were brought to the playoffs on Kurt Warner’s 4,583 passing yards. They still barely got into the playoffs with nine wins, and it wasn’t until they found out how to establish the run that they made it to the Super Bowl.
This season, the Cardinals began with a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Warner went 26 of 44 for 288 yards.
The next game, he rebounded with a phenomenal game in which he was 24 of 26 for 246 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The big stat from the first game is that the Cardinals only had 17 rushing attempts, two of which were by quarterbacks. In turn, they only had 40 rushing yards for the whole game.
Against the Jaguars, the Cardinals had 28 rushing attempts, four of them by Matt Leinart and Warner. Tim Hightower had a game-high 72 yards, and the running game made this win happen.
Warner played great, but it always helps your play fakes if you can establish some sort of running game.
Despite Hightower’s 72 yards, Beanie Wells did a great job when he kept the ball in his hands.
In his first four rushes, Wells gained 40 yards, but went on a downhill slope after that, only getting three more carries and coughing up two fumbles.
There is definitely a lot of potential for Wells to be a great back in the NFL. Of course, he needs to keep his hands on the ball and not give it up like he did against the Jaguars.
The Cardinals have been a passing team, but when you have a weapon like Wells, you can’t simply put him in there for blocking and play fakes.
Wells wasn’t drafted for being a great receiver out of the backfield or a great pass protector. He was drafted because, with the ball in his hands, he is one of the deadliest weapons you can have on the field.
He’s got the power of a fullback and has speed to bypass defenders. He has a killer stiff arm, and is all around hard to tackle.
Using him will only help the passing game, because if you don’t put more men in the box to stop him, he will burn you.
When teams do put extra men in the box to stop Wells, Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald will be open in single coverage.
Once this team finally figures it out by putting Hightower in for more of the passing downs and Wells in for more of the running packages, there will be a lot of problems for opponents.
In the Big Ten, Wells was used to carrying the load for his team and that may have caused more injuries for him. In this type of offense, they don’t need the run...they have a great quarterback.
In a big win like they had against Jacksonville on Sunday, the Cardinals need to work Wells into the game a lot more, especially in the fourth quarter. When the defense is getting tired, this is the guy you want to get the ball to.